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Health Care Policies Impacting Nurses This Year

As you pursue your online DNP degree, it’s important to remain aware of outside forces that could impact your work in coming years. In 2017, there are several policies that will likely impact all health care professionals, including nurses:
Advocating for health care policy reform

The Stark Law

Introduced in 1988 with amendments in 1993, the Stark Law prohibits health care professionals from making referrals to other professionals for financial gain. Originally aimed at preventing a conflict of interest, the Stark Law now has strict opposition. According to the National Center for Policy Analysis, the Stark Law has 35 exceptions to the rule, and most of them state that a health care professional can only accept fair-market value for referrals.

Another tenet of the Stark Law is that it allows doctors and other health care professionals to make a profit, even if the referral isn’t in the best interest of the patient. However, it’s possible that a new bill would replace the Stark Law, providing more rigid guidelines in lieu of the complex exceptions to the rule. The result is that patients could trust their physicians without fear of a conflict of interest.

The American Nursing Association’s (ANA) Principles for Health System Transformation

The American Nursing Association has drafted a letter in response to legislative appeals to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The letter outlines measures central to the needs of patients throughout the country. While these guidelines aren’t a law, they set a precedent for future health care acts to follow.

The Principles for Health System Transformation laid out some basic needs that the government should follow in any act they conceive in the future. One such topic was encouraging economical use of health care systems while including those who couldn’t afford to buy into the process. This is a branch of the current ACA that provides health care to the less fortunate, even if they can’t pay premiums or enroll in Medicare.

Another aspect of these principles aims to ensure that the government offers grant or loan repayment systems that foster the growth of a skilled health care workforce, especially nurses. Not only does this cover the cost of education and training, but it also discusses the need for diversity and distribution across the country.

Part of these guidelines also involves maintaining a set of universal health care codes for all citizens and permanent residents of the country. This would eliminate the denial of services for those with preexisting conditions, keep children on their parents’ plan until age 26, and expand Medicaid. While these are all current laws under the ACA, this acts as a safety net if the ACA becomes null and void.

The last portion of these principles lays out a plan to encourage preventive services, as well as a promotion of technology-driven services at hospitals. The aim of this aspect is to grow the nurse-patient relationship, prevent illnesses or catch them in the early stages, remove restrictions that place a barrier between the nurse and patient, and coordinate services to save money and become more effective.

There’s no telling if these guidelines are something that’s going to become law, but they do provide a plan for tackling the current problems of the health care industry.

The Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA)

Signed into law in 2015, MACRA is a law designed to change the way health care professionals receive compensation for treating Medicare beneficiaries. Rather than a set wage for care, health care professionals will now receive wages based on the effectiveness and quality of the care they provide. This provides a new rubric to measure the care that doctors and nurses provide patients on Medicare and Medicaid. According to this act, this either increases or decreases their pay. In 2017, negative results will garner a 4 percent decrease in compensation, while positive reviews will result in a 4 percent increase. This will go until 2022, with the percentages increasing to 9 percent in either direction.

With MACRA, the level of health care should improve, but it’s still in its infancy, and little is known as to how it will change the quality or landscape of health care.

An Important Time in Health Care

Although the framework of the health care industry is in flux, the need for qualified nurses never changes. That’s why it’s an important time to be a part of the health care industry, and to continue or begin your career as a nurse. If you are interested in advancing your education to become a nurse leader or nurse practitioner, consider a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree from Maryville University.

Sources:

http://healthblog.ncpa.org/pete-stark-repeal-the-stark-law/#sthash.hJfO3yUj.dpbs

http://www.insurancequotes.com/health/hsa-and-high-deductible-health-plans

https://www.law360.com/articles/874123/health-care-policy-to-watch-in-2017

http://nursingworld.org/Principles-HealthSystemTransformation